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Revolutionising mental health support for youth

Of the more than 500,000 young Australians who experience mental health issues, just half seek help and less than 5 per cent gain access to specialist care for adolescents and children.
Yet anxiety in children and adolescents is very common and without enough help, can lead to significant and ongoing problems into adulthood.

Young people are particularly proficient at using technology and are familiar with it – so using technology to deliver evidence-based mental health is one means for improving access to interventions and services.

UniSQ’s Institute for Resilient Regions has supported research into mental health issues in young people for the past five years and has secured a $5 million grant to develop an online platform that builds on that work.

'Online psychological programs can help improve access to treatments that work, for young people who prefer digital approaches or who might not otherwise be able to get help.' Professor Sonja March

Professor Sonja March has been researching the issue of mental health in young people for 18 years, most recently with her work with the University of Southern Queensland.

Together with two other researchers, she created an online program for child and adolescent anxiety, known as BRAVE. In 2014, Beyond Blue supported her research team to translate BRAVE into an open access platform which is free for all Australians. 

The program has had 45,000 registrations to date, and research data shows that those engaging in the program show substantial reductions in anxiety. 

We believe this would offer a viable model of care for health services around Australia and the potential to reach many more thousands of young Australians.
Professor Sonja March

The most recent funding, a $5 million grant from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund in particular, through its Million Minds program will enable the team, headed up by Professor March, to develop a more comprehensive online platform that integrates detection, assessment and tailored interventions.

It will address common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance use and sleep problems.

The belief is this kind of intervention will offer a viable model of care for health services around Australia and the potential to reach many more thousands of young Australians.

The team is excited about the potential benefits that can be gained through digital intervention and from working with researchers across Australia thanks to the new funding.  

Professor March’s project team includes researchers from Griffith University, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Federation University and The Australian National University.

The initial program (BRAVE) was developed by Professor March, Associate Professor Caroline Donovan (Griffith University) and Professor Susan Spence (Griffith University).

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